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Thread: quilting machines

  1. #1
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    I was talking to my local sewing machine shop owner and he discouragaed me from getting a long arm for just myself to use if I was not going to quilt for other people. He also said the frame does not come in pieces and you must have a straight shot into a room because you can not turn with the pieces. Can anyone tell me about quilting machines and frames as I am interested in purchasing for doing my quilts only. Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    I am not in the market, but if I was my first choice would be something that does the job but not tak much room. I have my eye out for this:

    http://www.apqs.com/machines_george.php

    or

    http://www.quilttrends.com/hq16.asp?...FYKB3godwlb4RA and go to the link that reads Sit down Version


    I like to move the quilt rather than the machine and these smaller machines are more appealing to me.

    Hope this helps,

    Maria

  3. #3
    Cookn's Avatar
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    I will say that your dealer is partly correct. Most frames come in different sizes, with some being adjustable for size. Usually you purchase a frame in the length you want. If it's a frame like the Hinterburg, you actually purchase a frame kit and purchase your rails locally when you assemble the frame. It uses simple electrical conduit.

    I recently posted this on another board that I frequent. If you have any questions I'll try to answer them,but I have been researching for a couple of months and this might save you some time. Sorry about the length but it is not a subject that you can cover quickly.

    "Along with many other members on this board, we are shopping for a longarm sewing machine. I have been asked by other members to share my research and experiences with the board. So here goes.....

    One of the first things that we found out is that there are several different types of "Longarms" in the market place. The market is basically divided into 3 segments, true longarm machines, mid-arm machines, and short arm machines. The designations refer to the length of the arm the machine has. It's important because it dictates the amount of quilting area that you can access at one pass of the machine. It is determined by the amount of space between the sewing head and the support of the arm the head is connected to or throat space. It ranges anywhere from 8 inches to over 30 inches. The sewing machine is mounted on a roller carriage, that rolls front to back and side to side.

    Shortarms are usually anything with up to 12 inches of throat space. There are several machines in this range and are usually a great value for someone that is quilting for themselves or has a small sewing area to work in. They are usable on inexpensive frames usually designed for home use. Some of the frames made by the Grace Co. and other vendors work very well with these machines.

    Mid-arms encompass machines from 12 inches up to 18 inches of throat space, which allows a greater quilting area. Many of the machines are available with a dedicated frame usually table mounted or an actual table mounted frame. They have an attendant increase in investment for the increased capability and they begin to have space issues, they take up a good amount of floor space. Some offer front and rear controls either as standard equipment or optional accessories. It's something that you need to find out if you are shopping in this area. It can add a significant expense to the machine and it is really something that you need to utilize the full capability of the machine. Rear control comes into play if you plan on using pantographs, which are printed quilting patterns that you follow with a stylus, usually a laser light. Sometimes the laser is included, sometimes not.

    Longarms encompass machines over 18 to 20 inches. They have a quilting area that can range from 10 to over 20 inches. They will almost always have a table mounted frame that is brand specific to the machine. Depending on the throat space and length of the frame, they range anywhere from 8 to 14 feet in length, they cover a huge amount of floor space. Consider a machine with a 12 foot frame and 26 inches of throat space, for front and rear access consumes a space of almost 16 feet by 8 feet. All will have space for mounting pantographs and usually the laser guiding light is standard. They range in price from under $10,000 to over $35,000 for a complete robotic quilting machine, where you just push a button and the machine quilts fro you. They are available from several different manufacturers.

    That covers the basic classifications. When shopping you'll find everybody in the market place touts their machine as the end all, to do all. Don't be be swayed by all the advertising hoopla. Choosing a machine is a very PERSONAL decision. Each machine will have subtile nuances unique to that machine or brand. You need to test drive the machines you are interested in and not for 5 minutes. You might find that after 20 minutes the machine which looks great and sews great starts to make your back hurt or the controls give you carpel tunnel. Remember you are going to be using the machine for long stretches at a time.

    The most important thing to shop for is Customer Support both from the dealer and the manufacturer.

    Purchasing a machine is like purchasing an automobile, options and more options, which ones do you choose ?

    Stitch Regulator, does it come standard or it it an option ? Do you want one ? Personally, I'm not that smooth, so I want one. A SR gives you nice even stitches not matter how fast or slow you move the head, most of the time. You can over run the SR and end up with uneven stitches. What type of SR is it ? Is it computer controlled or a manual control ? A computer controlled unit is better because it uses sensors to sense head speed and balances stitch length according to movement of the head. Is the SR adjustable? Some stitch regulators have different settings for overrun speeds and the way it operates. Can it be used in idle mode ? In idle mode the needle is always moving even when the head isn't. The needle slowly goes up and down and speeds up when you move the head. How does the SR react when you make rapid movements ? Does it square off small curves ? Useful to know if you do small stipples, you wouldn't like squared off stipples would you ? If it has an idle mode can it be switched between modes without stopping ? If it works in other modes, there are instances where you might want to work in idle mode, for instance if you are doing a bunch of direction changes, it's nice to have the needle moving all the time so you don't have large stitches when you quickly change direction. If you are doing a nice smooth pattern, with an adjustable SR you can turn off the idle and have the machine run only when you move the head. Lot's of stuff to consider.

    Table options are numerous. Things to look for, does it have channel locks ? Channel locks are nice, they lock the carriage channels in either or both of it's ranges of motion. Great if you want to quilt parallel lines or cross hatch. Access to the batting, you'll sometimes need to remove errant threads or want to do trapunto. Can a light bar be added ? If options are available, can they be added at later times ? Motorized fabric advance, table height adjustment ? All of these options and more are available. You might say no to one initially, and then decide it's a feature that you really want. Remember, that to quilt a full size king size quit you need at least a 12 foot long table, and that even at 12 feet you still lose usually 12 to 15 inches of quilting space because of the size of the machine.

    I know that this information just touches the surface of purchasing a quilting machine. It's a decision that you really have to do your homework on and refine your decision on the fly. Once you start testing machines you begin to find things that you like and things that you dislike. I look for how the machine moves on the table. Is it smooth or kinda herky jerky ? What's the noise level like ? Does it vibrate ? How are the controls laid out ? Are they easy to use and in an accessible place or adjustable ? How are the ergonomics of the machine ? How easy is it to maintain and repair. Most of the time you are on your own when it comes to maintenance and minor repairs. There are a few machines on the market that ship with a timing tool so you can time the machine yourself. Are you up to the task ? I'm 6'2" tall what fits me probably won't fit you. I've developed some favorite machines and then crossed them off the list because of lack of customer support or they just didn't feel right. You'll develop a short list of machines that you like. I'll post a couple of reviews later with likes and dislikes from my point of view."


  4. #4
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    I have a Grace frame...the GMQ Pro....which comes flat, unassembled. You will need to have someone assemble it for you. It takes several hours as there are hundreds of screws and nut and bolts.

    I also bought a Bailey 13" Home Quilter. These also come in 15" size.

    I have been pleased with mine and have finally decided that it is not necessary to do all the intricate stuff a long arm can do. It is possible, but at age 75 I do not want to spend the rest of my life quilting in tiny segments. Or making feathers, etc.

    I have given myself permission to be "free wheeling" in my quilting and now I can do a quilt a whole lot quicker than I once did. I do free motion and have developed some of my own designs, that appear to be meander since they are in no way regimented over the quilt. It fits my style. Free-wheeling and Free-flowing fits with Free-Spirit.

    There are all sorts of frames and machines to fit all sorts of needs. This one is a good fit for me. I am very happy with my purchase.

    I trust you will find just the right thing.

    Continue to ask questions. I joined 4 Forums to gather information before I chose the Bailey. I had nearly decided, then would go back to something else. I took 8 months to decide mostly because we were having our basement finished and I could not get it until the room was ready. This was once when time was a luxury.

    Best wishes for your search and final decision.

    June

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shelley's Avatar
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    You'd be amazed at how small a space people can put a true longarm in. I visited a new friend last week. She had a 12' A1 in the back bedroom of her single wide manufactured home. They had taken the doors off the closet, and part of the machine was in the closet. To get to the back of her machine, she had about a foot at one end to squeeze thru. Luckily, she's a teenie tiny thing. I'd have to take off the batting roll rod, and stop, drop, and roll to get from front to back! I have no idea how they got it in there, I would have guessed it to be impossible, but they did it!!

    The dealer that sold my A1 to me said that 75%-80% of the machines she sells are to people who are not going into business, they are doing their own quilts.

  6. #6
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    Actually, a lot of people have long arm machine setups for doing just their own quilting. It's becoming more and more common. Many people who have tried to take in quilting jobs as a business quit because it can be frustrating when people bring in tops that don't lie flat, are crooked, have weak seams, etc.

    For lots of information and advice, try joining the homequiltingsystems group at http://groups.yahoo.com . Quilters have all different kinds of setups depending on what kind of quilts they do, how much room space they have, how much money they can spend, etc. I'm not sure, but it seems to me that most of the quilters there use long-arms just for their own quilting.

  7. #7
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i have the tin lizzie 18"-er. the machine comes alone, of course. the frame is a wood one (hinterberg) that comes flat with instructions. the poles are ones that you buy at your local home depot. because everything is shipped flat and assembled by you (or a paid assembler) at home, you can put it wherever you like, according to the length poles. i have chosen 10' poles. 120" is more than i will ever need. if necessary i will do a larger quilt or bedspread in 2 parts (highly unlikely). dh had no problem trying it out in several rooms and we decided on the basement, which was around a sharp corner, down a full flight of stairs, and around another sharp corner.

    i don't understand why your guy would say that. there are so many machine/frame setups that fit through odd places. also, many quilters are buying for themselves, not to make money. a lot of setups are reasonable :?: in price (around $5 - 7000) not the really high prices that used to be the only choices. is he trying to prevent you from buying something that he doesn't sell or doesn't service?

  8. #8
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    I really think now that is what he was doing since he doesn't sell them

  9. #9
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    bad, bad man. shame on him :hunf:

  10. #10
    Super Member azam's Avatar
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    I have a a Tin Lizzie 18 along with a Pinnacle Frame. The frame comes with everything you need to assemble it, no need to buy extra parts. I have it set up for king sized quilts, 120". My DH put it together in a few hours. We carried it up a flight of stairs around two sharp corners with no problem. As far as servicing, my DH does that too, we called Ernie and he told us how. By the way, I didn't buy it to make money, I bought it so that I could finish all the tops that I had accumulated. Sure beats trying to quilt them on a small machine. Hope this helps :!:

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